TRAVEL WORK, WHAT GIVES?
Occasionally, I am asked about my Travel Portfolio and the work therein. Yes, I’m a commercial headshot photographer. The Portrait work I do is a natural extension of the fact I study, and photograph human faces. I am also a cultural portrait photographer, which is another extension of my headshot work. I enjoy travel and cultures that are different from my own. When I shoot people while I travel, I apply many of the same qualities I use in my headshot work. I develop a connection, put the subject at ease, and often direct to get the portrait I want. I discussed this with Todd, a Baltimore photographer, when I met him.
I often travel with wildlife and tribal photographer Piper MacKay. We have become friends and colleagues. While photographing Samburu warriors in Kenya, Piper saw me developing a rapport with a few of the young men I was photographing. I then made a fool of myself trying to learn some words to say. This put the men at ease, much like the chats I have with my headshot clients. Soon, I had several warriors waiting in line to be photographed. Later in the trip I did the same thing with a group of Maasai warriors I photographed. While photographing them I dropped a camera, smashing it on some rocks. The young man I was photographing was astonished that I pulled out another camera and kept shooting. Simply put, he was too important a subject to stop making photographs. Our bond developed because of that, and later he gave me a Maasai name which roughly translates to the strong, calm one. I said he misread me as being calm, but he explained it was like the elephant. Calm and confident on the outside, but strong below the surface. I’ll take it. After those two shoots Piper and I discussed working together. We have done workshops and are starting tours together now. This is because of my headshot photography influencing how I work in other, similar photographic genres.
So, back to the Travel Portfolio. Yes, I do shoot other cultures while traveling overseas. However, the work isn’t so different than headshot work. Take away the exotic locations and it is still about capturing the personality of those in front of my camera. The photos aren’t as polished or perfectly lit as my work at home, but the goal of showing the person’s personality is the same. When we shoot together, we will develop a rapport, chat, and have fun. When we do, feel free to call me Malubo, the strong, calm one.